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How does a collaborative divorce work?

With more and more studies showing that high-conflict divorces can take a huge toll on both parties and their children, there has been an increased interest in collaborative law. The collaborative process allows you and your spouse to work together instead of being on opposing sides at a trial in family court.

During a collaborative divorce, you and your ex will list out the different terms and items that need to be handled before the divorce can be finalized. These usually fall into four broader categories: property division, spousal support, child custody and child support.

Within those categories there may be many different issues. For example, child support may need to deal with the usual monthly support amount, who will be responsible for carrying medical insurance on the children, who will pay what portion of the medical bills not covered by insurance and how any extra expenses, such as sports or orthodontia, will be handled.

You and your ex will meet — sometimes with a mediator or arbitrator depending on how you choose to do it — to discuss all of these issues and work to come to an agreement. Once everything has been decided, you can have an attorney prepare it for submission to the courts. If the judge agrees that the plan is reasonable and all issues with the children have been addressed to the court's satisfaction, the agreement will be finalized into the divorce decree.

A collaborative divorce is often suggested for exes who feel confident they can be civil and keep up communications. However, it can also be a way to keep a high-conflict situation from spiraling out of control.

Source: FindLaw, "Collaborative Divorce: Overview," accessed June 29, 2016

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